Relations with the Republic of North Macedonia

  • Last updated: 15 Feb. 2019 10:44

At the Brussels Summit in July 2018, Allies invited the Republic of North Macedonia to begin accession talks to join NATO. Key areas of cooperation include democratic, institutional, security sector and defence reforms. The country actively supports the NATO-led missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Zoran Zaev

  • The country was previously known as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Since 15 February 2019, following full implementation of an agreement between Athens and Skopje on the issue of the country’s name, it is now officially recognised as the Republic of North Macedonia.
  • The country joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) in 1995.
  • In 1999, the country joined the Membership Action Plan, which sets out its reform plans and timelines in an Annual National Programme.
  • At the Brussels Summit in July 2018, Allies welcomed the historic agreement between Athens and Skopje on the solution of the name issue and invited the government in Skopje to begin accession talks to join NATO. Allies also urged further progress on important reforms before and after accession.
  • Following the signature by the Allies, on 6 February 2019, of the Accession Protocol of the Republic of North Macedonia, it now has to be ratified by each of the 29 Allies according to national procedures.
  • For many years, the country has provided valuable support to NATO-led operations and missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo.
  • NATO provided assistance when violence between ethnic Albanian insurgents and security forces broke out in the west of the country in February 2001.
  • A  NATO military headquarters created in Skopje during the operational period of the NATO-led intervention in Kosovo has since been downsized and transformed into a NATO Liaison Office, which assists with security sector reform and host nation support to the Kosovo Force. A NATO Advisory Team is located within the country's defence ministry.


 The road to accession

The Allies are committed to keeping NATO's door open to Western Balkan partners that wish to join the Alliance, share its values and are willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership. Euro-Atlantic integration is seen as the best way to ensure long-term, self-sustaining security and stability in the region.

At the April 2008 Bucharest Summit, Allies agreed that an invitation to join the Alliance would be extended to the country (at the time known as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the issue over its name has been reached with Greece. This agreement was consistently reiterated at subsequent Summits.

At the July 2018 Brussels Summit, Allied leaders welcomed the historic agreement between Athens and Skopje on the solution of the name issue. In line with NATO policy, they decided to invite the government in Skopje to begin accession talks to join the Alliance.
Following the signature by the Allies of the Accession Protocol of the Republic of North Macedonia, the country can now take part in NATO activities as an invitee.  Once the Protocol has been ratified in the capitals of each of the 29 Allies, according to national procedures, the country will become a member of NATO.

An important condition for the successful conclusion of the NATO accession process was full implementation of all prescribed internal procedures with respect to the agreement on the solution of the name issue  – these procedures were completed by 15 February 2019.
The Allies continue to encourage and support the continuation of reform efforts within the country, particularly with a view to ensuring effective democratic dialogue, media freedom, judicial independence and a fully functioning multi-ethnic society.

Key areas of cooperation

The Republic of North Macedonia’s cooperation with NATO is mutually beneficial and includes:

Building capabilities and interoperability

  • An important focus of cooperation is to develop the ability of North Macedonia's forces to work together with forces from NATO countries and other partners, especially in peacekeeping and crisis-management operations. Participation in joint planning, training and military exercises is essential in this regard.
  • Participation in the PfP Planning and Review Process since 1999 has also helped develop interoperability, as well as providing planning targets that are key to security reform and transformation objectives for the country's armed forces.
  • In 2005, the country joined the Operational Capabilities Concept, a mechanism through which units available for operations can be evaluated and better integrated with NATO forces to increase operational effectiveness.
  • Participation in the Defence Education Enhancement Programme is helping improve education and training, which is essential for the country's defence reform efforts.
  • Through participation in the Building Integrity Programme, North Macedonia is working to strengthen good governance in the defence and security sector, and reduce risks of corruption by strengthening transparency and accountability.
  • In 2013, the country's Public Affairs Regional Centre in Skopje was recognised as a Partnership Training and Education Centre, opening its activities to Allies and partners.

Support for NATO-led operations

  • North Macedonia deployed troops in support of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan from 2002 to end 2014. It is currently supporting the follow-on Resolute Support mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces.
  • The country was a key partner in supporting NATO-led stabilisation operations in Kosovo in 1999, as NATO forces deployed North Macedonia to halt the spread of the conflict as well as to provide logistical support to the Kosovo Force (KFOR). The Allies also provided humanitarian assistance to help the North Macedonia deal with the flood of refugees from Kosovo. The country continues to provide valuable host nation support to KFOR troops transiting its territory.

Wider cooperation

  • North Macedonia supports implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
  • The country is strengthening its national civil preparedness and resilience with the support of NATO. Practical cooperation with the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) is also enhancing crisis management capabilities and interoperability.
  • North Macedonia has been actively engaged with the NATO Science for Peace and SecurityProgramme since 1998. Recent activities have focused in particular on cyber defence and counter-terrorism, defence against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents, and environmental security.
  • National government and local non-governmental organisations seek to provide public information on NATO and its relations with North Macedonia, with the support of NATO, its Liaison Office, as well as individual Allies and partner countries.